Head and Neck Problems
There are a number of differing types of Head and Neck problems
All can arisie from various sources. Some cause pain which is local to the neck only, while others can cause pain to refer into the upper limb, shoulder blade or head. Head and Neck pain can be incredibly distracting, limit normal daily activities and prevent sleep.
Many people are under the impression that there is very little that you can do the help symptoms if you suffer with headaches. Happily, this is not the case.
Usually the origin of a headache is myo-fascial (meaning muscles and connective tissue) and as such treating the myo-fascial structures and ensuring normal mechanical functioning of the neck joints can produce fantastic results.
Individuals generally seek treatment for neck pain, but not their headaches and are amazed when they realise that once their neck pain has been fixed the headaches settle also.
If you suffer from headaches, why not think about having treatment to address the underlying problem instead of taking pain killers to cover it up. We would be delighted to help.
Problems arising from the jaw area can cause symptoms which may include pain
in the jaw, ear, neck and head, clicking, popping, and/or reduced jaw / mouth
opening and, in extreme cases, the jaw can 'lock'. At best this condition can be
distracting, but in more severe cases when the jaw is unable to move, it can be highly
distressing to the individual and significantly affect their ability to bite and chew,
yawn, speak, and function normally throughout their day.
The problem is usually caused by a dysfunction of the temperomandibular joint (TMJ).
This is the hinge joint that is formed by the jaw bone (mandibular bone) and the
temporal bone of the skull. This joint enables you to open and close your mouth and
to move your mouth / jaw backwards and forwards and side to side.
Problems arise from this area when the normal movement of the TMJ is altered.
This may be due to changes in muscular tension around the neck and jaw, a direct
blow to the jaw, or from problems with the cartilaginous disc within the joint itself.
Muscular overuse and tension of one side of the jaw / neck compared with the other side, including tension and spasm arising from whiplash associated disorders can be managed successfully by a physiotherapist who is experienced in dealing with TMJ problems. Physiotherapy treatment for TMJ disorders may include soft tissue and muscular trigger point release of the areas responsible for the joint dysfunction, along with specific joint mobilisation, a programme of corrective home exercises and, in some cases, the use of Acupuncture to help with pain relief and release of muscle tension.
If you experience other symptoms along with your jaw pain, such as difficulty swallowing, blurred vision, sudden headaches, nausea / vomiting, sudden weight loss, night sweats, or if you feel generally unwell alongside any of these symptoms, you must arrange to see your GP urgently.
Whiplash is a term that describes a neck injury caused by a sudden movement of the head forwards, backwards or sideways.
It often occurs after a sudden impact such as a road traffic accident (see below). The vigorous movement of the head overstretches and damages the tendons and ligaments in the neck.
Tendons are tough, fibrous bands that connect muscles to bone. Ligaments are fibrous connective tissues that link two bones together at a joint.
Whiplash is a neck injury due to a sudden, violent movement of the head
Common symptoms of whiplash include:
neck pain and stiffness
tenderness over the neck muscles
reduced and painful neck movements
After an accident, it can take a while (six to 12 hours) for the symptoms of whiplash to develop.
The neck pain and stiffness is often worse on the day after the injury and may get worse for several days afterwards.
Whiplash can usually be diagnosed from a description of your symptoms. Tests and scans aren't usually required.
Visit your GP if you've recently been involved in a road accident, or you've had a sudden impact to your head and you have pain and stiffness in your neck.
They'll ask about how the injury happened and details of your symptoms. They may also examine your neck for signs of muscle spasms and tenderness and assess the range of movement in your neck.
Treating whiplash : Whiplash will usually get better on its own or after some basic treatment.
If you have whiplash, it's better to move your neck rather than keep it still using a neck brace or collar.
Your neck may be painful but keeping it mobile from an early stage will improve its functionality and speed up your recovery.
Prolonged neck pain may make it difficult for you to carry out daily activities and enjoy your leisure time. It may also cause problems at work and could lead to anxiety and depression.
Postural Neck Problems
This usually comes on gradually over time, as a result of abnormal postures, sustained poor posture, inadequate seating at work and/or desk set-up, or even as a result of poor posture elsewhere in the lower back and pelvis. Often pain starts out as a little 'niggle' or ache but it can develop into a constant soreness that is difficult to change. Poor / repetitive abnormal postures cause stresses to occur within the soft tissues and inflammation to build around the associated joints, causing tension and pain. In more severe cases, neck stiffness occurs as the joints and soft tissues become too painful to move fully, the spinal discs can be affected by abnormal loading, and nerve roots can become irritated.
This type of problem is normally managed very successfully through postural correction, ergonomic modifications, specific stretches and exercises, and manual therapy to address the soft tissue and joint tightness.
Wry Neck (Torticollis)
This is when the head becomes twisted or tilted to one particular side, seemingly very suddenly, and is extremely painful (and sometimes feels impossible) to move back into the normal position. In many cases, this condition presents when an individual wakes on a morning, having gone to bed with no problems the night before. The magnitude of the symptoms often do not indicate a serious problem and the cause is usually either a muscle strain or facet joint inflammation (or a combination of the two) which is preventing movement and causing pain. Though it may be painful for a few days, the problem often fully resolves relatively quickly. Only in rare cases does this suggest serious pathology.
Liberty Physiotherapists can help with reducing the pain and restoring the normal movement through the use of specific manual therapy techniques, stretches and exercises and acupuncture can also prove useful in settling pain and muscle spasm.
Nerve root irritation ('trapped nerve')
As nerves are the most sensitive structures in our bodies, when they become irritated, the pain they cause is often indescribable and can be one of the most painful conditions arising from the musculoskeletal system. Whilst the symptoms can be incredibly painful, often the problem is relatively simple and can be easily resolved with physiotherapy. Associated symptoms can include tingling or numbness in the upper limb and loss of grip strength, and on some occasions, facial symptoms including jaw ache and facial tingling when nerves from higher levels within the neck are involved.
Nerve roots can become irritated or 'trapped' by a number of sources such as tight overlying muscles, stiff or 'jammed' facet joints, abnormal postures, disc protrusions, and degenerative conditions of the neck (wear and tear) which causes reduced joint space and therefore subsequent pressure on the emerging nerve roots.
Liberty Physiotherapy treatment techniques can include spinal joint mobilisations, soft tissue release, neural mobilisations and a programme of specific exercises and postural correction, dependent upon the cause of the problem.